With summer crossover season in full effect and all sorts of minis, maxis, and new number ones hitting the shelf, I’ve come to realize that this is my first summer using an online service. There’s a lot of debate on the geek blogsphere these days about a brick and mortar store vs. an online mail-order service. A lot of people have stated their opinions, but, like all complex and nuanced issues, getting your comics each week is a complex universe, full of upsides and downsides. So today, second printers, I will present the first of two segments detailing the heroes and villains that I face each week when I order my comics online and receiving them by mail.. Today, I present the rogues gallery of online comic book ordering:
Two-Face is one of the most dangerous villains you face as mail-order comic book customer. The mail-order customer has to make his/her orders based solely upon the information available in the previews. When we only see that brief glimpse of our comics, we always think that they’re going to be good. Titans #1? Looks great! Cable #1? Gotta have it! But when we receive our books and see their true face, we see an ugliness that we had thought impossible. Without the aid of the community in a comic shop and the ability to leave a comic on the shelf after flipping through it, the quality of the comics that end up in our long box is often as random as the flip of a coin.
The Time Trapper
This guy really knows how to kick you in the gut, particularly during crossover season. All the local comic shop customers have their comics on Wednesday, and many of them write their thoughts and reactions on the Internet almost immediately (thankfully, they’re almost uniformly excellent about putting up spoiler alerts). But we have to wait. I usually get my comics on Friday and sometimes not until the following week due to the fact that my company doesn’t ship on Sunday. This delay probably doesn’t seem like much to a civilian, but my fellow geeks out there who have spent Wednesday afternoon counting down until quitting time so that they can run out and get their comics understand how painful this can be.
The Mad Hatter
Retailers are nothing if not consistent. Unless Diamond really screws the pooch (which has happened to be sure), there are always comics available for purchase in a store. With an individual mail-order service, there are a variety of variables at work, including user error, lost order forms, shipping to the wrong address, etc. One time, I skipped a whole month in my ordering just because it was all so damned confusing. Online services have the ability to really confuse and mind-fuck the user, so beware.
My most hated nemesis is Inertia. My online service takes orders well in advance, which means that I order my comics for July in May and so on. This means that by the time you find out a series is completely unreadable (see: Cable), you’ve already ordered the first three issues. The only upside of inertia is that sometimes you end up giving a series more of a chance than you might otherwise and realize that a slow first issue doesn’t a bad series make (see: Abe Sapien: The Drowning). But mostly, you just end up with a bunch of extraneous crappy books that you’re ashamed to own (see: Kick Ass).
It’s not exactly the Injustice League Unlimited, but the rogues gallery of mail-order comics is dangerous indeed. But for every villain, a hero will rise! Come back next week for the heroic pantheon of online mail-order comic